May 3, 2022 - News

D.C. Circulator drivers on strike

The DC Circulator

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

More than 150 unionized Circulator operators are on strike Tuesday morning after union contract negotiations stalled.

Why it matters: The strike is the latest in a series of pro-labor actions around D.C. as workers, including nurses and restaurant workers, call for better conditions amid overwork and inflation.

State of play: ATU Local 689, which represents the drivers, says the contractor hired by the city to manage operations of the Circulator, RATP Dev, has made bad faith efforts to come to a collective bargaining agreement. The parties’ previous agreement expired on April 30.

  • The union said Monday night in a statement that RATP’s latest contract offer “threatened to substitute our members with subcontractors, eliminated workers' federal rights under the Family & Medical Leave Act, and proposed undermining the concept of progressive discipline.” This proposal, the union says, did make “real movement” on wage increases, but not enough.
  • The union had previously said the proposal is a 6% increase of top pay per a three-year contract, which it calls a pay cut in light of inflation. The union also wants certain federal holidays and a 401(k) proposal added to their contract.

Of note: The union is accusing RATP of unfair labor practices, and union spokesperson Brian Wivell tells Axios they have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

Yes, but: In a statement, RATP called the decision to strike “disappointing” and said its latest proposal would increase the 401(k) match, add medical leave, make Juneteenth a holiday, and raise wages by reducing the number of years to reach the top wage rate and raising wages across all tiers.

Flashback: The city's transportation department warned of a potential strike in a statement last Thursday and said it was working on an adjusted plan for limited service.

  • The agency has posted a list of transportation alternatives.

What’s next: Union negotiations continue Wednesday.

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